Breeding Birds of Daring Lake: Herring Gull

The Herring Gull is the only gull that calls Daring Lake home during the breeding season.  I believe there are at least nine pairs of nesting gulls that live within boating distance of the Daring Lake camp. I don’t seem to see Herring Gulls as often as I’d like to in Ottawa, so it has been a treat to observe the local pairs that surround camp.

Typically the gulls of Daring Lake choose to nest on the small islands scattered throughout the lake, or even on large boulders exposed from the water, such as the one pictured below.  Egg laying took place sometime around June 14th,  and the gulls have been busy minding and protecting their nests since.  When not on the nest, the pair nesting on the pictured rock can been seen each evening on the beach of Daring Lake at the mouth of a adjacent stream fishing for invertebrates.

The boulder in the forefront of this image contains the nest of a Daring Lake Herring Gull.

The boulder in the forefront of this image contains the nest of a Daring Lake Herring Gull (the white dot on the boulder is in fact one of the resident gulls).

The gulls that have attempted to nest on Yamba Lake, the larger lake to the north-east of Daring Lake,  have been less successful. As of July 1st the Yamba still had at least 50% ice cover with the only open water around its margins.  When the winds pick up, which happens here quite often, the ice is pushed towards shore and buts up against the boulder islands that the Herring Gulls preferentially choose for nesting.  At least one Yamba Herring Gull nest has been abandoned due to the ice intrusion.

Last week an ornithologist from Yellowknife came to Daring Lake for a short stay.  His main work for the week was to collect eggs from the local Herring Gull nests.  Six eggs were collected from unique nests on Daring Lake.  The eggs are being sent to Environment Canada in Ottawa for a series of contaminant analyses.  I’m always grateful to be included in the work of the other researchers and northern government officials that visit Daring Lake.  The learning opportunities here are amazing!


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